Listening to news of important modifications to ‘Auntie’ BBC UK television this morning I was reminded of equally radical changes to the procedure for payment of a TV licence in Italy.
If, as a payer of electricity bills to ENEL or an equivalent Italian electricity supplier (e.g. Edison, Eni, GDS etc.) , you hadn’t noticed, realise this grim fact: from July the ‘canone RAI’ (licence fee) will be incorporated as part of your total electricity supply bill.
The good news is that the fee has been reduced from Euro 113.50 to Euro 100.00. (Presumably it’s better to have everyone pay a reduced fee than only some paying the former fee).
The bad news is that if you haven’t got TV programme receiving equipment in Italy you’ll have to go through a somewhat complicated procedure to cancel your additional payment to wonderful RAI.
There are various web-sites to show you how you can ‘disdire’ (cancel) the TV licence fee. All the sites are catering for an Italian-speaking market and require some knowledge of bureaucratic terms. Have you passed your exam in business and bureaucratic Italian yet?
Here’s one of the sites:
To deny yourself the pleasure of having a receiving TV in your Italian home you must fill in a self-certification form for Italian Inland Revenue purpose. In certain situations one may lawfully terminate paying one’s TV licence even if one possesses a TV set. The following categories may fill in this form to state that they don’t want to pay the licence:
- Those who don’t own a television set.
- Those who own a TV and are paying an electricity bill but already have a TV licence for their own home in the name of another member of the family.
- Those who are over 75 years of age, receive an income of less than Euros 6,713.88 per annum and live in a house with, at most, just their spouse present.
- Those who have electricity bill in the name of a deceased relative.
The deadlines for declaring that one doesn’t own a TV (self-certification) is May 10th for on-line transmission (this was available from April 4th) and April 30th for those sending their self-certification by post (address to send to is Agenzia delle Entrate Ufficio di Torino 1, S.A.T. – Sportello abbonamenti TV – Casella Postale 22 – 10121 Torino.
The reason for this forcible change is that RAI depends on two-thirds of its income on the license fee which is more than its income was seven years ago when just half the licence fee supported the national TV station. The rest of RAI’s income comes from advertising. Since tax evasion here is tantamount to a national sport, dictatorial measures have had to be imposed by the government to get its long-suffering citizens to pay up.
The quality of Italian television has been the source of complaints from many Italians and certainly not without justification. If one is into game shows, chat programmes and glitzy variety then there is certainly plenty to choose from!
My view is that careful programme selection can turn up some gems like the documentaries Superquark and Ulisse with Piero and Alberto Angela, frightening factual criminal investigations like chi l’ha visto (Italian equivalent of Crimewatch, only much more sinister), lighter programme like Bake off Italia (no translation needed) and, of course, the internationally well-regarded Commissario Montalbano (Inspector Montalbano) which has been running since 1999 and is based on Andrea Camilleri’s brilliant crime thrillers. I wish, however, that original English language films were not dubbed in Italian when shown on RAI. It’s rather surreal to hear Steve McQueen speak with a Neapolitan accent!
If you don’t want to watch Italian TV, don’t have a TV and don’t have TV programme receiving equipment then you must do a self-certification as described above and fill in the form to be downloaded at:
Once it used to be ‘can’t pay, won’t pay.’ Now it’s ‘won’t pay, must pay’. The deadline has been extended to May 16th. It may be too late not to see the TV license incorporated into your next Italian electricity bill but it’s possible to apply later than this date and, hopefully, have the extra license fee charge cancelled.
However, be warned: there are snooper vans going around the country checking up on people who say that they don’t have a TV but conversely have one receiving set. The penalties are confiscation of all TV sets and TV receiving equipment, including aerials, plus a hefty fine. Alternatively, you could resign yourself to watching the box and pay, even if you have no intention of viewing RAI (Radio Televisione Italiana).
(PS This doesn’t mean you’ll be shot by a canon if you don’t pay up- it means’ beware of the TV licence’)
What next? Italian car road tax on your gas bill?